Duke students develop new selfie app


Adam Beyer

A new app developed by Duke students—appropriately named Ego—gives users a platform to share their favorite selfies.

The app—which allows users to post pictures of themselves and view and comment on their friends’ posts—has gained approximately 1,100 users since its launch May 11. The idea behind the app came after Sam Waters, Trinity ’15 and chief executive officer of Ego, noticed a void in the world of social media.

“There really isn’t a place for just selfies,” Waters said. “Content on Instagram has become very curated over time, and a selfie is a more casual type of image.”

To start designing the app, Waters hired three developers from other universities. Waters—who created Radoozle, the online food-ordering service used by many Duke students—also recruited senior Serena Kerrigan to serve as head of marketing.

“I know how to build a character around my persona, and I’m trying to build a character around Ego,” Kerrigan said.

Kerrigan said she feels people can be more casual on Ego than on other social media platforms, noting that the app confronts the taboo of taking a selfie.

Upon opening the app, users are asked to enter a username and an adjective to describe themselves. They can then begin posting selfies as well as “watching” and “boosting” their friends’ posts. The app provides users with a metric called a “ratio” that serves as a “measure of your selfie prowess.”

One potential criticism of the app in its current form is a lack of diversity among users, senior Tyler Nelson explained.

“As long as the app has a diverse range of people posting selfies, I think the app could be successful,” he said. “Right now it seems like the app is dominated by certain sororities, making it feel fairly exclusive.”

Kerrigan noted that version 1.1 of the app will be released soon and that it will address concerns about privacy and ease of use, in addition to including a feature that allows users to invite their friends on other social media platforms to join the app.

“Like any product launch, there’s feedback we’ve gotten we are taking into account,” Waters said.

After the user base becomes larger, Waters said he may begin introducing ads to generate revenue, though he first wants to see Ego featured on the iTunes store.

The app is also planning partnerships with a number of organizations and celebrity figures to help boost its usage, especially on other college campuses. Waters and Kerrigan have already created a promotional video featuring former Duke basketball player Justise Winslow